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2020 Super Tuesday live updates: Biden sweeps the South, wins most delegates

More than 1,300 delegates — or about a third of the total — were at play on Super Tuesday.
Image: Voters in 14 states will cast ballots in Democratic primaries on \"Super Tuesday,\" March 3, 2020.
Voters in 14 states cast ballots in Democratic primaries on "Super Tuesday," March 3, 2020.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

Fourteen states and one territory held nominating contests for the Democratic Party's candidate for president on Tuesday, the most pivotal day on the presidential primary calendar.

When the polls closed on Super Tuesday and results came in, it became clear that former Vice President Joe Biden had swept the Southern states, winning the primaries in Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas, as well as Minnesota and Massachusetts, and had ended the night with the most delegates. Sen. Bernie Sanders came out on top in Colorado, Utah and his home state of Vermont, NBC News projected.

On Wednesday, NBC News declared Biden the apparent winner in Maine, though the race against Sanders in the state was a tight one.

More than 1,300 delegates — about a third of the total — were at play, more than on any other day in the primary season.

Download the NBC News app for full coverage and alerts on the latest news.

Live Blog

NBC News Exit Poll: Biden favored by voters who prioritize beating Trump, issue voters back Sanders

Six in 10 voters in today’s Democratic presidential primaries care most about nominating a candidate who can beat Donald Trump in November, according to the NBC News Exit Poll conducted in 12 of 14 Super Tuesday states across the country. These voters favor Joe Biden over his more liberal rival Bernie Sanders by a margin of 36 percent to 25 percent.

By contrast, about a third of Super Tuesday voters say they’d rather see the Democrats nominate a candidate who agrees with them on major issues. Sanders is the clear favorite of these voters over Biden, 45 percent to 24 percent.

How is the Sanders campaign feeling?

A source within the Sanders campaign says they are "absolutely" surprised by the results out of North Carolina. This is a state where campaign officials were optimistic because they saw it as his best performing Southern state in 2016 (he still lost by double digits.)  

Sanders had television ads airing in North Carolina media markets even before the South Carolina contest. In addition to the four separate trips and many stops Sanders made there, his surrogates including Nina Turner and Donald Glover spent significant chunks of time in the state.

This was one the campaign thought it could win. When this source was asked if this also was affected by Rep. James Clyburn’s endorsement, we were told: "His force is evident."

The Sanders campaign believes it's still early to panic as some polls are still open nationally. 

Sanders spokesman Mike Casca tells NBC News, "If you turn off your television at 10 p.m. tonight, you will wake up tomorrow to a different race."

Campaign manager Faiz Shakir came out to speak to the now-thinning crowd.

"We are having a good night, and it’s only going to get better," Shakir said. 

NBC News Exit Poll: Moderate and older Democratic voters boost Biden in Oklahoma primary

Voters who want to unite the country and return to former President Barack Obama's policies propelled Joe Biden to a projected victory in the Oklahoma Democratic primary, according to results from the NBC News Exit Poll.  

Biden beat Bernie Sanders, the second-place finisher, among both men and women, white voters and non-white voters, and voters age 45 and older. Biden also did well with moderates, securing 46 percent of their votes.

And Biden had significant support among voters who placed importance on a candidate who can unite the country, those seeking a return to Obama's policies and those who consider health care their top issue. 

 

NBC News Exit Poll: Biden voters want a uniter, Sanders voters want change

The NBC News Exit Poll finds Biden voters and Sanders voters prizing very different candidate qualities.

When asked which of four candidate qualities mattered most to them, roughly half of Biden voters in Super Tuesday Democratic primaries said that they prefer a candidate who can unite the country. About one quarter of his voters most want a candidate who can bring needed change, and another 4 percent say it matters most that the candidate is a fighter.

With Sanders voters, the pattern is largely reversed: A plurality (49 percent) say they most want a candidate who can bring needed change, while just 17 percent say that uniting the country matters most. Another 23 percent of Sanders voters in Super Tuesday states prize a candidate who cares about people like them.

Warren voters, for their part, express preferences that are similar to Sanders voters: A majority say it’s most important to have a candidate who can bring needed change.

Sanders wins Colorado, NBC News projects

NBC News Exit Poll: Colorado Democrats think economic system needs 'complete overhaul'

According to the NBC News Exit Poll, there is strong support among Colorado Democratic primary voters for a “complete overhaul” of the U.S. economic system.

Just less than half of Colorado Democrats believe the U.S. economic system needs significant restructuring, while 43 percent think the system needs only "minor" changes. A mere 5 percent of Colorado Democrats think the U.S. economic system "works well enough as is."

NBC News Exit Poll: Biden waltzes out of Tennessee with a win

Tennessee voters have kept Joe Biden’s Southern streak unbroken so far tonight. The NBC News Exit Poll finds that 62 percent of black voters in Tennessee backed the former vice president in today's primary.  

He also won majorities among military veterans, moderates and conservatives as well as voters 45 and older.  These results reflect his strengths in other Southern states voting on Super Tuesday.